Viola Cases

Edited: May 17, 2022, 6:25 AM · Both my kids are now playing viola as a second instrument, and I think it is time to replace our current very old and not particularly protective case.

Viola cases seem to be a bit more challenging due to the variability in viola sizes. The viola we have is not particularly long (about 15 and 5/8) but it has an extra wide lower bout. I remember struggling to find a case that fit it and wasn't huge.

Any suggestions? We are looking for something reasonably priced and not too large or heavy, especially since my 12yo is still a smidge under 5 feet tall -- though she can play 10ths on the viola!

Replies (23)

May 16, 2022, 8:02 AM · I have a 16" MJZ viola and it fits with room to spare in its standard Bobelock case (the "JSI special" version of the Bobelock). Unfortunately the case is an absolute tank. Your choices seem to be:

(1) A custom-fitted case, perhaps even an off-the-shelf case that is modified to fit the large lower bout of the viola you have. That kind of modification (refitting the internal padding) is probably only possible with the larger oblong cases anyway, and those are all quite heavy,
(2) Shop till you find something that magically fits, but probably you've been there already,
(3) Different instrument. I realize that's probably not really an option. There is probably a lot that you like about your oddly-shaped viola in terms of sound, playability, and perhaps value too.

May 16, 2022, 8:21 AM · Many viola cases are adjustable because of the non-standardized sizes. I have a Gewa Concert oblong case (which I will pass on to my son when my newly ordered Musafia is ready). If you let me know the measurements of the viola I am happy to see if it would fit in the Gewa. I have a couple of violas of different sizes I could check with. My main concern would be an instrument with a narrow lower bout since the adjustment is only lengthwise so I would be worried that a smaller instrument would move from side to side in the case.
May 16, 2022, 8:21 AM · I like my Hidersine. I have one for both my violin and viola. My viola is 15.5" I think
May 16, 2022, 9:01 AM · Have you visited your local luthier? That person could probably help find the right case.
May 16, 2022, 10:05 AM · I like Bo's idea -- we can all go measure our cases and create a database. What would be the needed measurements? Length of the back, length of the neck/scroll portion, widths of both bouts, thickness of the body at the edges?
Edited: May 16, 2022, 10:42 AM · My viola is 15.75" but with four wide bouts and high arching.
I got a Gewa shaped Thermoshell case for a large viola and added padding
at the end so that the upper bouts would not jam in the narrow part of the case.
I always test the interna height by putting a large blob of BluTak on the bridge, the shutting the lid (gently!)
May 16, 2022, 11:46 AM · Have you looked into the Bobelock 2048 Half Moon case? It's 8 pounds. Is that too heavy? It's adjustable and can fit a lower bout up to 10.24"

I absolutely love mine. The shape makes it easy to carry and maneuver. Feels lighter than it is. If it's legal to say here, I got mine at a substantial discount from Fisher Violins.

May 16, 2022, 1:32 PM · I use a Bobelock case, which works well, but these cases tend to be on the heavy side. However, they are fairly inexpensive, so you might want to go to a local luthier and see if it is light enough for kids. Good luck!
May 16, 2022, 1:50 PM · I like the standard Bobelock case that my son uses, built like a tank, well made, cheap, holds a very full sized 16 3/8" Kiernoziak (similar to Cison's rather than the more common model he makes). I can see the appeal of smaller and lighter though.

Susan I think we may run into your son in South Bend in a few days. Good luck to them.

Edited: May 17, 2022, 6:24 AM · Stan -- yes, we will be at South Bend. See you then!

Tom -- my experience has been that our favorite luthier only usually has a few viola cases on hand. They will likely order anything I want, but I may not be able to try it out in advance.

I will check out the above-mentioned cases. But these are the approximate measurements. Forgive my lack of terminology.

Body - 15 5/8 inches
Lower bout at widest point is 9 3/4 in
Upper bout at widest point (corners) is 8 in
Total length is about 26 inches

May 16, 2022, 3:10 PM · Lower bout is narrower than upper bout?
May 17, 2022, 6:24 AM · Sorry I reversed those. Fixed it.
May 19, 2022, 2:17 PM · That would fit in my case (Gewa Concerto) without problem. Lower bout width a little over 10 inches would fit. If you want a lighter case you may want to look at a shaped case.
May 23, 2022, 9:26 AM · On my son's instrument the upper bout is 7-7/8", lower bout is 10". There is no more room for the lower, but 1/4" more for the upper, so I am thinking theirs may fit. The downside is it's big and heavy.

I am sorry we did not get to hear Hyacinth - they went early and we had something else going on then. We had a thing or two happen and I'd be interested in your thoughts, email me if you have time.

May 23, 2022, 1:32 PM · Both my Bobelock Arrow adjustable and my Bam contoured high-tech fit my large/wide viola. I used to have a viola with similar dimensions to yours and it fit both-my current viola is even bigger/wider.
May 23, 2022, 2:54 PM · Thanks so much for checking those measurements! That really helps.

Stan, I can't find your email but I will message you through my son's IG.

May 24, 2022, 10:57 PM · Only for the data collector's interest because I hear that 15" violas aren't "real violas":
Body length 15"
Total length 25"
Upper bout 7-1/8"
Lower bout 8-3/4"
May 25, 2022, 12:29 AM · Just for the record, there are two more measurements that need to be taken into consideration when shopping for a viola case.

The first is the total height of the instrument, measured by placing the instrument onto a flat surface (such as a table) and measuring the highest point of the bridge (usually 11-12cm).

The second is the amount of space between flat surface and the highest point of the underside of the neck (usually about 6cm, less for baroque instruments.

Between these two measurements you can make sure that the scroll is not resting on the bottom of the case (i.e. not suspended, in a suspension case) and that you have adequate clearance for the bridge in case of mishap.

Edited: May 25, 2022, 12:53 AM · Hidersine ultralight viola cases come in a limited range of sizes with padded "sausages" for the slightly smaller violas. In other words a 16" case will come with a sausage in case you have a 15 1/2" viola and a 15" case likewise. Or maybe they sell a 16 1/2" case with a sausage for 16" violas. Whatever. Your case doesn't need to be exact, just get some cushioning material to fill it out. Maybe stuff a sock.

Good 15" violas are real violas - my teacher's is a John Betts, 1780. She uses a Hidersine ultralight case. I suspect getting hold of one in the USA might be difficult.

May 25, 2022, 7:36 AM · Dimitri, thank you for pointing that out. One of the main reasons I want to replace the current case is because the scroll is not suspended appropriately.
May 28, 2022, 10:39 AM · Not just the scroll but the entire neck should be free. I have fairly dense foam under the shoulder area of the viola, and I trim the "bulkhead" to have no contact with the the neck.
May 29, 2022, 5:38 AM · @Adrian, respectfully I disagree. If you leave the neck entirely free and the scroll receives an impact, the lever effect will tear the neck out of the instrument.

The neck, being solid wood, is the strongest part of the instrument. The latter's security thus revolves around it.

May 29, 2022, 5:50 AM · I stand corrected!
I was hoping my scroll never touched the case..

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